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While Nintendo Switch consoles might be the most favourite gifts for children, others are clamouring for something that’s a bit more grown-up: a smartphone.

According to a study carried out in 2019, almost 66 million active internet users in India are children in the age group of 5-11 years. Given stats like this one, it is no surprise that kids of elementary school age are likely to put smartphones atop their wish lists. However, this does leave most parents grappling with questions and reservations.

Kids without supervision in the digital realm can be frightening, especially if you consider increasing cyber-safety threats. You’d want to protect your kid from web risks such as cyber-bullying and stalking, and explicit online content, without taking away access to smartphones and the internet.

Knowing what the safest phones for kids are can help, particularly if your little ball of sunshine is adamant on you buying her one. With that said, let’s delve deep:

Consider buying a tablet (or a non-smartphone)

Let’s face it – your kid will try every trick in the book to get that smartphone. But you must give it a second thought. If you are thinking about buying one, hoping that the smartphone would give your kid’s educational endeavours a push, remember that he/she, in all probability, has access to computers and technology at school.

If you seek to ease your child into the digital domain, consider buying a tablet first, one that has parental controls pre-installed. A basic non-smartphone with calling and messaging features is also fine if you always want to be in the know of your child’s whereabouts.

Remember, as a responsible parent, you must place the wellbeing and safety of your child above everything else, even if it means you have to play the bad cop. A good idea is to wait until your kid becomes an eighth-grader at least.

How to teach good phone habits and ensure digital safety?

When you eventually zero in on your decision to buy your kid a tablet or a phone, the first step is talking about safe phone habits. You should:

  • Establish strict parameters for when devices should be off-limits. The Washington Post recommends designating screen-free zones at home.
  • Set certain conditions. For example, access to smartphones would be allowed only after all homework is complete.
  • Block explicit content with parental controls applied across every device
  • Check browser history — this may appear to be a privacy infringement, but you got to take a few harsh steps for your child’s online safety.
  • Decide how much screen time your kid would be allowed
  • Keep your kid invested in activities throughout the day. That way, he’d not have the time to develop a smartphone addiction.
  • Inculcate appropriate behaviours that apply to the online world
  • Familiarise yourself with the online activities and websites that your child indulges in or frequents.
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Talk About Social Media

When talking about the safest phones for kids, the exercise isn’t complete without touching upon secure social media usage.

  • Caution your kid about any risky behaviour over the web. See to it that their social networking settings are private, and ask them to keep off interacting or messaging anybody other than family, relatives and close friends.
  • Explain patiently why privacy and anonymity are essential. The idea is to level with kids and discuss in terms that they would understand. Tell them that not everybody is honest and not who they claim to be on the web. Having this conversation with your child is vital, irrespective of their age.
  • Remind them about the permanence of things they post and share on social media

All in all, you must lead by example. Remember that kids learn what they see. That means you would have to limit your screen time and media use as well. Please encourage your child to speak up the moment they feel threatened, harassed or bullied while using a smartphone.

Best Phones For Kids, Categorized By Age Groups

There are several affordable phones for kids that allow the essential functions of calling and texting as well as pack a few add-on features. Let’s know what they are:

Best Phones For Age 8 And Younger

VTech KidiBuzz G2

Kids and parents alike are sure to love this snazzy Wi-Fi-enabled device. While the child will take to the messaging, photography, music and gaming, the parent in you will get absolute peace of mind. You can also pair it with the free KidiConnect™ app to send messages and images securely, and also approve your kid’s contact list.

With parental controls, you can set specific time limits and curate your list of approved websites. It doesn’t end there; kids can have their share of fun with the augmented reality (AR) game Creature Detective that blends learning and immersive gaming. This device packs 40+ learning games, including maths, science, problem-solving, spelling, music, languages and more.

Nokia 3310 3G

One of the better phones for kids under 10, Nokia 3310 is the ideal option that allows calling, texting, and music. The phone packs a rear camera and can be easily connected to the internet. However, you can disable access as well by adjusting the settings. More importantly, it is a sturdy option (rightfully given the moniker ‘brick’) with long-lasting battery life.

Best Phone For Age 9-13

Moto E5 Play

Want a wallet-friendly smartphone for your kid? Look no further; the Moto E5 Play is just the ideal choice. This device runs the ‘Go’ edition, a version of Android that is specifically designed for budget phones that aren’t as fast or support as much storage. What’s more? You have a slimmed-down version of Gmail (Gmail Go) and a lighter version of YouTube that work better.

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When it comes to camera quality, the ‘Beauty’ mode allows enhancing selfies, and the Pro mode lets kids enjoy manual control over their pictures. Truth be told, these are features likely to be present in higher-end phones.

All in all, the Moto E5 Play is affordably priced, easy to use, and one of the better smartphones for kids.

Best phone for age 14-17

Samsung GALAXY J3 EMERGE 4G LTE

This is a solid budget smartphone for your child. Besides being sturdy and durable, this phone features a large screen, HD display, front and rear cameras, a long-lasting battery, and expandable memory. Importantly, it is the simplistic layout of the device that is a bonus, considering you’d want easy calling and texting for your kid.

iPhone 7

This is what you go for if you ever feel the need to keep up with the Joneses. Released in 2016, the iPhone 7 may not be the most advanced device on the market today but is undoubtedly a solid starter smartphone for kids. The device packs several features, including water resistance and a quality camera with image stabilisation.

Don’t fret. There are a ton of apps on the web that will help you limit your kid’s screen time and monitor internet browsing.

In conclusion

Don’t forget to buy a mobile cover to protect against falls and bumps. More importantly, use reliable antivirus software that will guard against cyber threats, malware and ransomware.

Should children use mobile phones?

Mobile phones are useful devices that let you stay in touch with your child so that you know they are safe. Also, with guidance and supervision, your child can make the most of a phone and use it to learn newer things. If it is your child’s first phone, it is advisable to go for a tablet or a non-smartphone.

Are cell phones bad for kids?

Not necessarily. As a responsible parent, you must ensure that your child learns how to use a phone the right way. This article talks about how you can teach healthy digital habits so that you can keep your child out of harm’s way. Monitoring internet settings and limiting screen time, among other things, can help you form good smartphone habits.

What is a good first phone for a child?

In this post, we have sorted some of the best phones for kids, in keeping with different age brackets. Our recommendations should give you a fair idea.

What's the best emergency cell phone for kids?

All the devices listed in this article make for great emergency phones for kids. We recommend KidiBuzz G2 and Nokia 3310.

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